The success system that never fails?

I have written before about my early experience with the writings of W. Clement Stone. I recently found a PMA Coin on eBay, similar to the Challenge Coin I was once awarded in Combined Insurance sales school in 1986. The bronze coin has Mr. Stone on it along with “PMA” and the three keys to Mr. Stone’s “Success System that Never Fails.” The three keys: Inspiration to Action, Know-how, and Activity Knowledge. To a modern reader, the first two steps are fairly self-explanatory, but let’s break them down:

Inspiration to Action

This is when you are motivated to do something, to get something, to achieve a goal. It could be something as simple as making some extra money. The key is turning that want, that need, that goal, from a simple desire to something actionable. Doing something. Adding the Action to the Inspiration.

But what action do you take? That’s where the second key comes in:

Know How

Now I realize that “Know-how” is kind of an archaic term that sounds kind of folksy and quaint, but we all know what it means. Know How is the knowledge we get when we research our Action to see what steps are necessary to achieve our goal. For example, say we’ve identified our goal of making passive income from home. We must then research the various ways to make passive income then see which strategy appeals to us as being achievable. We have to weigh the pros and cons of each method, each product, each service. Once we’ve decided on the plan we wish to do, based on our Know-How, then come the next step:

Activity Knowledge

This is the Test phase. We learn, through Trial and Success, how to sell our product, how to monetize the thing. If our product, for instance, was a copywriting Sales Letter, this would be the Test Letter phase where we learn whether or not our Sales Letter is the Control… the one that motivates customers to buy. When it does not work, we try something else. As Mr Stone put it, “Through Trial and Success.” Note, that it’s not through Trial and Error, but, rather, through Trial and Success. That’s the PMA way.


Note that the Three Keys not only segue from one to another, they actually contain aspects of each other because it’s basically Desire-meets-Action-meets-Result. So this continuum of Thought-meets-Action is an organic process. If I want a Pepsi, and I know that there is a Pepsi in my refrigerator, then I must get off my couch, walk across the room, open the refrigerator, and grab that Pepsi. Then I must cross the room back to my couch, open the bottle, and drink that Pepsi.

Whether my goal is to get a Pepsi, or to make $1000, the process is the same:

Inspiration to Action: Make a Goal

Know-How: Learn How To Achieve that Goal

Activity Knowledge: Execute the Plan

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